Tag: do more faster
David Cohen and I will be at the Fort Collins Barnes and Noble from 6pm – 8pm on Tuesday 9/10/19 to sign copies of the 2nd Edition of Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.
Over the next few months, we’ll be doing a handful of public appearances around the book. It’s the first book I wrote and – with David – really learned how to write a book almost a decade ago.
We freshened up the 1st Edition with some new stories, lots of context and history around the evolution of Techstars, updates on where the entrepreneurs highlighted are today, and some other nuggets throughout the update.
When Do More Faster originally came out in 2010, there were three Techstars accelerators (Boulder, Boston, and Seattle) with a fourth about to launch (New York). Today, there are 50 active Techstars accelerators happening each year, located in 13 different countries. In addition to funding 500 companies per year (10 per accelerator), Techstars also runs a number of other activities, including Startup Weekend, Startup Week, a number of corporate innovation initiatives, and a set of Ecosystem Development programs based on work surrounding my book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.
Whenever I ponder it, I get great joy from reflecting on how much progress Techstars has made from 2010 and, more importantly, the amount I’ve learned about entrepreneurship through my involvement with Techstars.
If you are near Fort Collins, Colorado on Tuesday night (9/10/19), come hang out with me and David at Barnes & Noble, 4045 S College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80525.
In 2010, David Cohen and I wrote a book titled Do More Faster. It was filled with stories and advice from founders, investors, and mentors from around the first two years of Techstars.
This was the first book I wrote. David and I learned the joy and pain of writing a book. We were lucky to get to work with Bill Falloon, who has been my long-time editor on all the books I’ve written. Bill guided us through the process and helped us understand what was required to put together a real book.
Last month we released Do More Faster, 2nd Edition. We’ve freshened it up with new content, some new stories, and updates on where everyone is from the first edition.
We just released an episode of the Give First podcast with some behind the scenes back and forth on the book. Enjoy the Give First Do More Faster podcast episode and go grab a copy of the new and improved 2nd Edition of Do More Faster.
David Cohen coined the phrase “do more faster” and then we made it popular when we published the book by the same name back in 2010.
We wrote the book because it was becoming clear that doing more faster was exactly what businesses were striving to do and it subsequently became the Techstars mantra. As technological advancements gave both the entrepreneur and businessperson a new framework for productivity, goals across industries and departments started taking a new shape, but singing a similar tune: fit more into the day, produce more results, better results, cheaper results, and all in a shorter time frame than ever before.
Whether or not it’s overtly stated, the do more faster mentality has eked its way into nearly every aspect of business.
IT departments stand to gain some of the most significant benefits from adopting a do more faster attitude. If they approach things correctly, IT admins can cultivate an extremely effective development / IT organization and increase the pace of business across their entire organization.
Many of the companies that we invest in help their customers increase the pace of their business so that they can grow faster, be more profitable, and be better corporate citizens. Throughout the years, I’ve noticed that the companies I see who successfully increased their pace of business have three things in common.
- They decentralized decision making
- They push the pace of their product development by more closely aligning with customers
- They create a culture of action
To focus on the mantra of Do More Faster in IT, the JumpCloud team assembled a great group of people to write some thoughts on areas where organizations can pick-up the pace.
- Gene Kim talks about one of the most important movements in the IT world, DevOps.
- Alan Shimel, the founder and editor of DevOps.com, tackles how to make employees more productive through BYOD.
- Ben Kepes nails the concept of hybrid organizations – those that are crossing the gap between old world industries and innovation.
- Raj Bhargava (CEO of JumpCloud) tackles a few different subjects including how businesses can move faster by leveraging more commercial software rather than building from scratch, using remote employees, and leveraging wireless infrastructure.
The quest for increased speed doesn’t come for free. But that’s the beauty of Doing More Faster, Now with IT Control as Raj and his team discuss real steps businesses owners can take to solve the inevitable issues that come up when you start to move more quickly.
If you are interested in doing more faster within your development or IT organization, grab a copy of the JumpCloud eBook The Guide to Doing More, Faster (Now With IT Control).
I’ve been stalled trying to get through two books: Startup Opportunities (with Sean Wise) and Startup Metrics
(with Seth Levine). Dane McDonald (FG Press CEO) and my assistant Eugene Wan created a book cover recently to try to inspire me, as an homage to Do More Faster (with David Cohen).
It worked. I’ve gotten a lot of writing on Startup Opportunities done in the last week and I expect this week to be a good one.
We constantly hear about “product market fit.” But my post yesterday about The Power of Passion When Starting Your Company was about “founder market fit.” And I’ve come to believe that – especially among first time entrepreneurs – founder market fit is much more important than product market fit at the inception of the company.
I stumbled on the phrase a few times over the past year and it’s been rolling around in my head a lot since. The first time was on Chris Dixon’s blog Founder / market fit which led me to a guest post by David Lee of SV Angel on More Thoughts on What Makes Great Entrepreneurs Great.
I’ve seen this over and over in TechStars. Founders come in with something they are super excited about. As they get exposed to mentors and feedback, they quickly start moving around within the market (or domain) as they search for a clearer focus, which could be defined as product market fit prior to getting a product out there and doing any real testing. This search is usually qualitative – it involves real feedback from potential customers and users, but it’s not a measured, tested approach.
In parallel, there’s often a Lean Startup methodology going on that does more quantitative tests of the specific product. But in a lot of cases, the qualitative feedback at the very formative stages is just as, if not more, important to make sure you end up in the right zone to test.
Underlying all of this is the regular shift away from something the founders are passionate about. The Orbotix example in my post is a great one – it would have been easy for Adam and Ian to decide to work on something that had a better product market fit, like iPhone enabled door locks, instead of something that not only hadn’t been invented yet, but also wasn’t obvious what market would really want it (a ball controlled by your smartphone – ok – that’s cool, but who will buy it?)
They, and their co-founder and CEO Paul Berberian had a vision for who would want a ball controlled by a smartphone. And Adam and Ian were obsessed with the idea. The three of them had extraordinary founder market fit, well before they figured out the product market fit.
We’ve got lots of other examples of this in our portfolio. I can’t tell you the number of times I get asked “what would someone ever use a personal 3D printer for?” But Bre Pettis at MakerBot is completely and totally obsessed with bringing 3D printers to the masses. While product market fit is getting clearer with each new product release, the founder market fit in this cases was awesome. Or Isaac Saldana of SendGrid, who initially named the company SMTPAPI. He has a great chapter in Do More Faster where he wrote about how he “Looked for the Pain” as a developer, found it in sending transaction email, and created SMTPAPI (now SendGrid) to address it. Or Eric Schweikardt who is unbelievably focused on creating the next generation robot construction kit at Modular Robotics. Sure – the “market comp” in this case is Lego Mindstorms, but Eric’s vision for the market goes well beyond this, and the product follows.
I’m not suggesting that product market fit isn’t an important concept. It is. But at the very beginning, especially with first time entrepreneurs, founder market fit is even more important.
I get asked some version of this question, often in the form of “I’m thinking about becoming an entrepreneur”, every day. It’s awesome to me that lots of people are asking this question but it’s really hard to answer with a simple, short response. I’ve been pointing people at a number of resources to help them get a feel for what being an entrepreneur is like and two that I’m involved in top the list.
The first is the book Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons To Accelerate Your Startup that I wrote with David Cohen in 2010. There are a bunch of reviews up on Amazon – mostly good – that capture the spirit of what we were trying to convey. Whenever I’ve aimed it at someone who asks what it’s like to be an entrepreneur or wants to learn more about what’s in the mind of an entrepreneur, I usually get the feedback that it’s useful. What surprised me early on was the feedback from early employees at startups who told me it helped them understand what the founders of their company were going through. I recently skimmed through it again just to make sure it still felt fresh to me and it does.
The second is Startup Weekend. If you’ve never done a Startup Weekend, it’s an incredible simulation of entrepreneurship. In 54 hours you’ll go through the experience of starting a company from scratch, surrounded by others doing the same thing. You’ll compress a lot of the activities into a weekend, especially dynamics around team, idea, and trying to get something out the door quickly. It’s valuable for existing entrepreneurs as well – if you are an entrepreneur looking for smart people who want to get involved with startups, it’s a great recruiting ground. I’ve known and supported Startup Weekend from the very first one that was held in Boulder in 2007 and joined the board last year to amp up my involvement.
While there is no substitute for jumping in the deep end and starting a company, I believe both our book and the experience of Startup Weekend are great ways to get a deeper perspective of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
What are some of the things you point people at to answer this question?
If you are a developer, I encourage you to carve out an hour and watch TechStars CEO David Cohen’s presentation at RailsConf 2012 (30 minute presentation and outstanding 30 minutes of Q&A). He starts out with the assertion that “developers are the new investors” – how could you not be interested in hearing more about that?
David and I wrote a book last year called Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup and this is his riff to a room full of developers about some of his top tips. Special bonus – see a photo of me in my pajamas at minute 7.
Jason and I got an email this morning that said the following:
Hi Jason and Brad,
Just wanted to thank you for writing the book ‘Venture Deals’. The advice in the book seriously helped my startup get a great term sheet on the table on Friday.
We get an email like this often. They come in different forms – some are longer than others – but they always have the same message. “Thank you for helping me.” And that feels awesome. It’s not the extrinsic motivation from the praise, it’s the intrinsic motivation that comes from knowing I’ve put together a book on a difficult topic that is useful.
I’ve currently written three books: Venture Deals, Do More Faster, and Burning Entrepreneur. This summer I’m going to write four more – Startup Communities, Startup Life, Startup Boards, and Startup Accounting. They are all in process and at different stages of completion – by the end of the summer they’ll be largely done and will come out quarterly starting in Q3. My goal is to cover a broad range of Startup topics in the same format that Jason and I did with Venture Deals.
Every time I get an email like the one above, it’s a little more fuel to keep on writing.
I’ve always loved getting books signed by the author. As an author of two books, it makes me smile a huge smile when someone asks me to sign a copy of my book for them.
With Kindlegraph, I can finally sign my Kindle books. I met the founder, Evan Jacobs, at Glue a few months ago. He had just started putting books up on it and I immediately told him that I was game to put Do More Faster up. I tweeted about it and signed a few.
Now that Venture Deals is out I’ve got them both up on Kindlegraph. If you have a Kindle version of either book, or you are buying one, and want me to sign it, just go to my Kindlegraph author page and request for me to sign the book.
My partner Jason Mendelson and I are psyched to announce that our book – Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist – has been published and is now available. We are also relaunching AskTheVC – the companion website to the book that we maintained for several years, went dormant for a while, but is alive with content once again.
The book originated in 2005 when Jason and I wrote a long series of posts on this blog about a typical Venture Capital term sheet. It took us a year or so to get all the way through it, but it was fun and generated an enormous amount of positive feedback from entrepreneurs (and would be entrepreneurs) who told us how helpful it was for them to understand how a VC term sheet actually worked.
People regularly suggested that we turn the blog series into an actual book. Until about a year ago we’d simply encourage people to PDF up the posts and do whatever they wanted with them. We got great feedback from students and entrepreneurs all over the world who said they were on the receiving end of the posts, that the posts had been used as the curriculum for a class, or that they had simply referred to them during a negotiation and they were “more helpful than their lawyer.”
After I wrote Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup with David Cohen (the CEO of TechStars), Jason and I decided to write Venture Deals. We knew the term sheet series would only be a small part of the book and would have to be re-written, so we just got to work. Once again, it feels amazingly good to “ship the book” – it’s remarkably hard work to get from “an idea for a book” to an actual book.
For those who think this is just a reprint of the blog posts, they make up less than 20% of the book and have been completely rewritten. The table of contents gives you a feel for this.
- The Players
- How to Raise Money
- Overview of the Term Sheet
- Economic Terms of the Term Sheet
- Control Terms of the Term Sheet
- Other Terms of the Term Sheet
- The Capitalization Table
- How Venture Capital Funds Work
- Negotiation Tactics
- Raising Money the Right Way
- Issues at Different Financing States
- Letters of Intent – The Other Term Sheet
- Legal Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know
While it’s a chewy topic, we’ve tried to keep it light, fun, and enjoyable. But we’ve also tried to make it a must read for any entrepreneur, or would be entrepreneur, or student interested in entrepreneurship, or junior lawyer that is working on deals, and our parents. We’ve created a dynamic companion site at AskTheVC, are working on a teaching guide, and have a few entertaining surprises up our sleeve that will be launched in early September.
Since I’m a shameless book salesman, you’ll be hearing plenty more from me on this blog. But for now, go take a look at Fred Wilson’s wonderful review titled Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.